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Minneapolis light rail agency responds to Minnesota Public Radio lawsuit

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On Feb. 5, MPR President Bill Kling appeared on his radio network in an attempt to justify his lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council over the Central Corridor light-rail transit project.

"In his one-sided
presentation, Kling implied that the Council is reneging on a commitment to
install a floating track bed with steel springs on Cedar Street in front of MPR’s
broadcast facilities," said Peter Bell of the Metropolitan Council. "This is
simply not true. I requested an opportunity to tell our side of the story –
preferably on that program. Thus far, however, MPR has refused. This hardly
seems in keeping with either journalistic ethics or common standards of fair
play.

Bell pointed to the following
facts:

The Metropolitan Council
always has recognized MPR’s right to have their sensitive broadcast facilities
protected from LRT noise and vibration. After extensive negotiations, the
Council and MPR signed a 10-page Memorandum of Understanding dealing with these
issues in April 2009.

In that document, the
Council committed to installing a floating slab that "shall be designed to be
capable of continuously providing vibration mitigation satisfying the criteria
agreed upon in the mitigation plan, taking into account the temperature
extremes of Minnesota weather, snow and ice conditions and the slope of Cedar
Street…

"Without committing to a
specific solution, because final engineering is not yet underway, the Council
will consider, as one alternative, a ‘low-tuned’ slab that ‘floats’ on a spring
mechanism, comparable to the GERB engineering solution that was brought to the
attention of the CCPO and MPR."

"Now, almost a year later, ling
has gone to court in an attempt to rewrite the agreement," Bell said. "He
claims MPR resorted to legal action only after reaching out to the Council "at
a variety of levels" – even offering to enter mediation – and being rebuffed.

"I’m not sure who Mr. Kling
contacted, but neither he nor his staff ever contacted me or Regional
Administrator Tom Weaver," Bell noted. "Our engineers and consultants firmly
believe that installing a floating slab with a rubber pad on Cedar Street would
fully satisfy the performance standards contained in our agreement with MPR."

Bell continued: "Rubber-supported floating slabs have a
proven history of mitigating transit noise and vibration impacts, with at least
50 examples of successful in-place installations. The performance
characteristics of rubber materials are well understood and can be reliably and
confidently used for the Cedar Street alignment and for the climatic conditions
experienced in our region. Cost estimates show that a rubber-supported slab
would cost about 30 percent less than a steel spring-supported slab, which has
been used only once in this country.

 

"We cannot allow MPR or any
other group to, in effect, engineer critical portions of the Central Corridor
LRT line. If their engineering solution were to fail, the taxpayers would be
forced to correct a very expensive problem that MPR created. It also would set
a precedent that would haunt other transit and public improvement projects for
decades to come."

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